Mag's Reviews > Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Spark by John J. Ratey
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's review
Sep 12, 10

bookshelves: non-fiction, science, brain
Read from April 18 to September 12, 2010

Exercise is good for you- everybody knows that. But, exercise is also great for our brain- it promotes new brain cells growth, helps us concentrate, cuts down chances of developing dementia by 50%, and helps us fight a slew of conditions from ADHD to addiction. A combination of aerobic exercise in form of jogging or walking (as little as 30 min of jogging 2 or 3 times a week is enough to stay sharp) with an activity that’s demanding in terms of complex motor skills movements like yoga, ballet, or gymnastics is ideal for keeping our brain cells in good shape. Activities like tennis and squash are best, as they combine both the aerobic and the complex workouts.
If you don’t play tennis, a ten minute aerobic warm-up before a non-aerobic and skills based activity three times a week is probably enough to keep the brain cells in good order.
Ratey provides ample examples and case studies on positive effects of exercise in aiding learning and fighting stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, addiction, hormonal changes- both PMS and menopause, and aging.
It’s a very good book overall, but somewhat repetitive since it repeats the findings for each condition discussed.

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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Merilee (new)

Merilee Nice to hear what we already knew confirmed;-)

message 2: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag That's right, but he got me a bit worried. He says that only aerobic exercise (at almost your max heart rate like running) does significant stuff to you. Everything is valid, but this is the best. This is what supposedly helps you learn, get over addictions, slow down your aging, etc. I am wondering if my daily hot yoga is up to snuff. Some classes yes- they really get my heart rate up! But not all.

message 3: by Merilee (new)

Merilee But you also don't want to cause heart attacks...Zumba generally gets my heart rate up, and some hiking. I think yoga's good for stress and limberness - at the very least! Today we walked along the escarpment near Collingwood. Not a cloud in the sky and we could see all of Georgian Bay (part of Lake Huron to non-Canucks).

message 4: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag That must have been lovely! I mean the walk. It was a gorgeous day.
Ratey says that all exercise is good, but the one that has been studied and measured with tests and follow ups, is the aerobic exercise. He counts walking into it.

message 5: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· I'm wondering what to do at the moment as I'm already beginning to get arthritis, in both hips, so that my favourite activity, tennis, and the gentle running I used to do to get fit for tennis are both fairly painful. But then sitting about also siezes me up. I suppose I should swim, but I've always hated swimming pools and we're rather a long way from the sea/a lake. Cycling?

message 6: by Merilee (new)

Merilee Do you have hiking trails nearby? Cycling's also supposed to be good, but I find it hard on the ol' bum (well-padded though it is).

message 7: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Karen wrote: "I'm wondering what to do at the moment as I'm already beginning to get arthritis, in both hips, so that my favourite activity, tennis, and the gentle running I used to do to get fit for tennis are ..."

Karen I have arthritis EVERYWHERE and swimming is the best exercise but I know what you mean about getting into pools everyone and her dog have been in :(. I have a stationary bike that sits on the floor, it's just the wheel part. You sit in a chair to use it so your butt doesn't suffer as badly. You can also put it on a table and use it to exercise your arms.

message 8: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Maybe I should try underwater cycling. Both my pet hates together. I cycle to get places, just cos it's easier - no parking problems and our area is flat, plenty of bike paths. But just getting on a bike to ride around aimlessly, I dunno. You can't even listen to your mp3 player, at least I could do that when running.

message 9: by Merilee (new)

Merilee Why can't you listen to your mp3 player while biking?? Cynthia's device sounds really cool. Can you do it in bed?? The other problem with pools is the wet hair, especially in Winter. Lucky C. doesn't have to worry about the cold;-)

message 10: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Well, Merilee, basically it's both dangerous and illegal. We live in a slightly more populous country than Canada, and there are other road users! Sometimes it's a good idea to keep an ear out for what's coming up behind you!

message 11: by Merilee (new)

Merilee Actually that does make sense, Karen. I'm always worried about the kids I see dashing around on bikes and skateboards here with their earplugs in and the music blasting...WE've finally made it illegal to talk on cell phones (and text!!) while driving a car. Have they done that in Germany?

message 12: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Oh yes. Hefty fine if you get caught doing that.

message 13: by Merilee (new)

Merilee good!

message 14: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag (I still do both- talk and text and check the GPS as well, not to mention listening to books, but I am not publicly admitting to it- please do not arrest me, it's just on the side)
I just checked with the instructor today re cardio and hot yoga, and yes, whenever I feel the heart rate majorly go up, it is what it is- cardio. Maybe Ratey has not heard about hot yoga, and it is a different beast altogether, that's true. Karen, I would suggest it if you don't mind the heat (40 degrees) and the sweating. Makes you feel wonderful in your bones too. I can't run anymore either- I have issues with my right knee, and arthritis all over as well, but (intermediate and advanced) hot yoga is demanding enough to make me feel I had a good workout. That said, if you have some good hills around where you live, (and no, you don't, I have been to Krefeld)biking can be demanding and challenging, but you're right, it's not really where you live... Anyway, hot yoga is good. By the way, I love swimming, but I hate pools, so I am with you on that...

message 15: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Poor Karen. Your friends are determined to get you on a bike, in a pool or sweating on a yoga mat. Better you than me. bwahahahahahahahaha

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